Leaping Ahead, February 28, 2020

Earlier this week the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland celebrated its 100th anniversary! Amazing that in 1920 forward-thinking Jewish community leaders came together to create a centralized Jewish organization for fundraising and planning in Greater Portland. We are excited to officially begin our centennial celebration and look forward to leaping into a year of great programs and fun!
I am very excited that the return of the Jewish Review will be next Wednesday, March 4! If you are getting this email you will be receiving the Jewish Review. If you know of others who may be interested, have them please sign up here.
Earlier this week I was in Israel finalizing our plans for the Centennial Trip to Israel. We are excited to bring 400 people to Israel for the “trip of the century.” Our Co-Chairs, Priscilla and Tony Kostiner and Kathy Davis-Weiner and Michael Weiner, along with our main trip coordinator, Caron Blau Rothstein, have done an incredible job preparing for this trip. On Wednesday night and again on Sunday we are briefing everyone about what to expect as we travel to Israel as a community. Certainly we are monitoring the situation with the Coronavirus, but we have every expectation to go.
Last Sunday our community held a very timely and important program. 140 teens, parents, educators and community members came together to learn more about the current mainstreaming of anti-Semitism. The program included discussions and concrete examples of anti-Semitism from across the spectrum. The teens in attendance did a deep dive into “microaggressions” and how they affect so much of what is happening. Both the teens and the adults discussed real life scenarios of anti-Semitism and the impact on them. At the conclusion of the program, everyone came together to debrief and hear about resources available from the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education and the Anti-Defamation league (ADL). We plan to hold many more workshops on this important topic.
Here is a special opportunity for young adults in our community. The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs is looking for young Jewish men and women (ages 25-38) of outstanding leadership potential to participate in a Diplomatic Seminar for Young Jewish Leaders -- a 10-day study program in Israel from Jewish communities around the world. The seminar will take place between July 12 - July 23, 2020.
The Diplomatic Seminar imparts analytical tools for understanding the political and national security challenges facing Israel, and insight into the society, economy and culture of the Jewish-democratic state. The seminar program will include lectures, workshops, cultural events and study tours in order to explore these and other topics and to expose participants to the rich fabric of Israeli life. Particular attention will be paid to challenges facing the Jewish people as a whole: demography and Jewish continuity, the combat against anti-Semitism, and the relationship between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora. 
The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs will cover full board and lodging for participants, as well costs of seminar excursions in Israel. Participants are responsible for covering their travel costs to and from Israel. If interested, please review this application form.
One of the efforts we coordinate at the Jewish Federation is the Portland Area Jewish Educators (PAJE). We are delighted to start our first ever learning program for 17 preschool and kindergarten educators from three Portland area Jewish preschools (Congregation Neveh Shalom’s Foundation School, Maayan Torah Jewish Day School, and Portland Jewish Academy). These teachers will come together over nine weeks to learn with Steven Foster, a certified positive discipline lead trainer and a licensed clinical social worker. He is the co-author of both the new Early Child Educators Manual and Positive Discipline for Early Childhood Educators.
At the conclusion of the program, these educators will earn recognition as Certified Positive Discipline Early Childhood Educators, and, just as important, they will have collaborated with each other and enhanced their skills and talents. 
Saturday night is February 29! How did the odd idea of “leap day” begin? Let’s first start with the Jewish calendar which has a “leap month” – Adar II. This happens seven different times in a 19-year cycle, because the sum of 12 lunar months is about 11 days shorter than the solar year.
The secular “leap day” comes from Julius Caesar, who as early as 45 BCE established an extra day every four Februarys as part of his Julian calendar. This idea was then taken up by Pope Gregory XIII, who retained and refined it for his Gregorian Calendar, established in 1582.
We all know why. Our 365-day year is, by strict mathematical measure, 365¼ days. So, every four years, those quarter-days are wedged together.
But why is this extra day in February? Apparently, the Romans felt that the months named after great leaders — July for Julius Caesar, August for Augustus Caesar — should be honored with more days. That meant a different month had to draw the short straw – and that was February.
But wait — it gets even more complicated. Pope Gregory's mathematicians next calculated that — after all — a year is just a tad less than 365¼ days. Meaning that the addition of leap days every four years added up, over the course of 400 years, to three days too many.
To compensate, they came up with the rule that years ending in double zeros, and not divisible by 400, would not count as leap years. Thus 2000 and 2400 are leap years; 1800, 1900, and 2100 are not.
Happy birthday to all the “leaplings” out there.
Shabbat shalom.


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